Thursday, January 17, 2019

Dhakal, Bajgain deny report on unlawful deposits in foreign land

At least four individuals – out of some 55 Nepalis, who are said to be investing in offshore companies and bringing in foreign direct investment (FDI) into Nepal from tax havens – have defended themselves by saying that they have not any unlawful activities.
Chairman of IME Group of Companies Chandra Prasad Dhakal – organising a press meet – defended that the report of Centre for Investigative Journalism-Nepal (CIJ-Nepal) is misleading as he has been running the remittance business according to the law of the land. 
He owns International Money Express (IME) UK Ltd – a British company – which according to him has been under operations after the central bank's approval to open the office in London to bring the remittance into Nepal through banking channel. “It was established to bring in remittance from the UK and other EU countries,” he said.
"I have opened a company in the UK, complying with all applicable laws of the country," Dhakal said, adding that he had taken the approval of central bank to open a company in 2002 in order to bring remittances to Nepal from the UK. "There was no violation of any law of the country."
If opening a company to bring remittances through formal channels is a crime, I have nothing to say, he added. "Otherwise, bringing up my name suddenly and lumping it with others including those with deposits in Swiss banks is unfair.
The report reads that Dhakal purchased the Sunbrid Compter Consultant Ltd, which was later rechristened IME UK Ltd.
"We have neither established companies in tax haven countries nor have we brought foreign direct investment from such countries," Dhakal said, adding that neither he nor his companies has any account in the Swiss bank. "IME UK Ltd was established after obtaining approval from Nepal Rastra Bank."
Likewise, Rajendra Bajgain – a central committee member of the Nepali Congress and a tourism entrepreneur – whose name has appeared in the list of Nepalis with investments abroad has also taken exception to allegations made against him. He is also alleged that he had brought foreign direct investment (FDI) from the British Virgin Islands.
Bajgain said that he has not flouted Nepali laws to bring FDI into the country. But the report of CIJ-Nepal released yesterday claimed that Bajgain channelised Rs 1.755 billion into the country from the British Virgin Islands thorough Silver Heritage Group, a Hong Kong-based company.
Likewise, sugar mill operator Shashikanta Agrawal and businessman Arun Kumar Chaudhary have also objected to the CIJ-Nepal report and denied that they have violated any law of the land.
Dismissing the report, all four of them said that have been unfairly targeted by media reports even though they have not done anything illegal. Denying that they have committed any wrongdoing, they both said the CIJ report has puts them in a negative light and tarnished their image. The report, 'Nepal Leaks 2019: Illegal Wealth Watch', released by the CIJ-Nepal yesterday should not have contained such flaws, they said, though CIJ claims that the report was the outcome of year-long investigations. However, most of the names Nepal Leaks claims to have disclosed also featured in the 'Panama Papers Leak' two years ago in 2017.
All Nepalis making investments in foreign land should not be put into a single basket as some of them may have secured permits from the central bank, while others may have become investors while living abroad, and some may be NRNs.